Kaiserslautern community comes to aid of needy
December 26, 2002
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — People in Kaiserslautern did more than wish soldiers a Merry Christmas.
Digging deep into their wallets, members of the Kaiserslautern military community pitched in to provide around $37,000 in food and toys for soldiers and their families who could use some holiday help.
The 415th Base Support Battalion’s Holiday Outreach Program brought soldiers together as family, said the battalion’s command sergeant major, Daniel Chavez.
The Army is a family and takes care of each other, Chavez said. Showing soldiers this is especially important during the holidays when many are far from their own families, he added.
Unit first sergeant’s identified more than 370 soldiers and their families from the Kaiserslautern area to receive holiday assistance, said Beth Duncan, the battalion’s Army Community Service Outreach Program officer.
“Mostly they are lower-enlisted soldier’s and single parents, but we also have some servicemembers who have fallen on hard times,” Duncan said.
The outreach program met the goal of providing at least two toys for every child — and then some, Duncan said. After distributing toys to families, volunteers took extra toys to children at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center early on Tuesday. Children in the neonatal intensive care unit, the pediatrics ward and the Fisher House received toys.
The Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl Spouses Association purchased $2,500 worth of toys, Duncan said. The association also shopped for an additional $6,500 in toy’s and then wrapped the presents after soldiers picked them out for their children, she said.
The second part of the Army effort provided commissary food vouchers to the families through the battalion chaplain’s Holiday Helping Hands.
The chaplain’s office gave out around $30,000 in food vouchers, said Chaplain (Maj.) Jeff Fisher, the battalion’s deputy staff chaplain.
We wanted to cover all a family’s needs,” Fisher said. “Eating together is something that draws families together. Some of the soldier are even inviting single soldiers to share a common meal,” he said.
Each family received a minimum of $70, Chavez said. The families received more depending on the size of the family, he added.
“The community poured their heart out this year,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Calvin L. Eastham, the battalion’s staff chaplain.
The amount donated this year is especially overwhelming considering that the Christmas drives came right on the heels of the Combined Federal Campaign and Thanksgiving food drive, Eastham said.
The chaplains received donations through chapel offerings, special offerings and from several local private organizations, Fisher said.
Some of the money for the programs came from the Air Force Top Three and Army Sergeant Majors Association combined Holiday Spirit Drive. The drive netted more than $12,000, said Air Force Master Sgt. Chris Kelly, the local Armed Forces Network station manager.
AFN’s Kaiserslautern radio station also helped beat the drums for donations. When the drive ended, the Army and Air Force split the money to share with airmen and soldiers, Kelly said.
Spc. Benjamin Anderson, a 5th Maintenance Company supply clerk, received a surprise when his supervisor asked him to stop by the chaplain’s office on Monday.
“I would just like to say thank you to all the people,” said Anderson, a father of two, with a grandchild on the way. “The food will really help out this season.”